“So the benefit of getting vaccinated (and not getting COVID) is much higher for older people than younger people. Thus, the benefit in preventing COVID through vaccination is greater with age, and risk of this clotting condition possibly decreases with age.”
Professor Cheng said health authorities did not mandate the 50-year-old threshold and were careful to make clear it was a choice so patients can still exercise autonomy over the vaccine.
“If a younger person said that they were happy to take a one in 200,000 risk of clotting for the benefit of getting protected from COVID earlier, then as long as this was an informed decision, we should respect that choice,” he said.
Professor Cheng said that even though he’s not privy to vaccine acquisition discussions that happen on a federal level, there was no question this decision would slow the rollout down.
“There’s no question that this decision will slow things down – having onshore capacity to produce vaccine is very valuable,” he said.
“So over the next few days, Commonwealth and state governments will be working out how the program will look in the coming weeks and months. But because we’re thankfully not dealing with ongoing COVID outbreaks, we can make this choice to take a safer path.”
Department of Health Secretary Brendan Murphy on Friday advocated that anyone over 50 who was given the opportunity to have the vaccine should.
“I still think it is a wonderful vaccine, it’s a really good vaccine,” Professor Murphy told 3AW, “for those over 50, they should have no hesitation about it.“
“This complication is vanishingly rare and the protection that’s offered is fantastic.“
On Thursday the health department said fragments of the virus that causes COVID-19 had been detected in wastewater samples taken from a sewer catchment in Melbourne’s southeast.
People who live in or have visited Clayton, Clayton South, Dingley Village, Glen Waverley, Mount Waverley, Mulgrave, Notting Hill, Springvale, Springvale South and Wheelers Hill with even mild COVID-19 symptoms are bring urged to get tested.
More to come
David Estcourt is a court and general news reporter at The Age.